Go ahead and watch the trailer for Spike Jonze’s latest film, Her. You’ll probably have the same thought that I did – the premise is preposterous. Spoiler alert: a guy falls in love with his operating system. No really, he genuinely does.
The trailer sells the movie short on purpose; it forces a morbid curiosity upon you that doesn’t let up until you can pinpoint how, and when, and exactly why the main character, Theodore, behaves that way.
Her is a quietly breathtaking exploration into technology, psychology, relationship and loneliness, and it’s no wonder that the tech geeks and poets alike have all been raving about it.
But it also throws up a million other questions:
1. If marriage has now already been redefined, then in future might it be possible for humans to marry robots or operating systems? Is Siri actually my Mr Right, and all this time I just made fun of the fact that he pronounces my name ‘AlexUndra’?
2. If we’re already smart enough to recognise that our screens are making us lonelier, not less, won’t technology like Google Glass be a gigantic leap backwards for humanity? We’ll eventually have computers on our faces. Will we reach saturation point in a decade, switch it all off and head for the mountain caves?
3. Your fridge has the ability to send spam emails now, and the ‘internet of things’ expands in complexity year on year. The single scariest thing about Her is that despite the idea seeming ridiculous at the start, you’ll discover you’ve already suspended your disbelief less than 15 minutes into the film. What notions do we currently reject that’ll become the norm in future?
4. With all of the above in mind, what will faith look like in 50, 100, even 200 years? How might a relationship with Jesus look when everyone in your generation is far more comfortable relating to AI (already happening among the Japanese otaku crowd) – opting for easy superficiality over the uncertain and the messy business of real relationship?
Will we invent a plug-and-play Jesus? A 3D projection of a bearded white guy (fully customisable, naturally, as long as you purchase the upgrade) spouting the whole of the Bible on demand? Will we market him as ‘a little bit of God in your pocket’? Will He respond in real-time as we pray, or be programmed to send us Psalm 34:18 as soon as He detects that our Facebook relationship status has changed?
If we could have that, should we want to?
Her is released today – Valentine’s Day – which means a bunch of couples expecting a romantic trip to the movies may find themselves wondering how much easier their lives would be if their partner was fully programmable. We’ve all – to some degree – swallowed the lie that easier equals better.
At this pivotal moment in the mad technological rush towards ‘efficiency’ and ‘intelligence’ – before we get into this thing over our heads – perhaps Her could be the klaxon that reminds us that our DNA wasn’t constructed in 1s and 0s. We’re flesh and bloody messes, created to need each other, not the black mirrors in our pockets.
(picture via Her official )